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Turning the Tide Against Tuberculosis in Mexico

Globally, one third of the world’s population is infected with the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). Each year, over nine million people develop an active form of the respiratory disease, which is highly contagious and can be fatal. Even though the disease is curable and its spread is preventable, approximately 1.5 million people die from TB worldwide annually.

TB is also a social illness that involves deep emotional experiences, alienation from family members, isolation and stigmatization. TB is a public health concern, particularly in developing countries’ most vulnerable populations. In 2010, over 18,000 TB cases were reported in Mexico; 20% were individuals with diabetes and 5.9% were co-infected with HIV/AIDS.

PCI’s Efforts to Combat the Disease
PCI has worked in partnership with the National TB Program in Mexico, and in other countries, to control TB by providing treatment support to patients. Our programs have been focused within 13 priority states across Mexico, which together account for 65% of the TB cases worldwide.

PCI’s Solucion TB Program analyzed the relationship between TB, diabetes and HIV/AIDS and then worked to improve collaboration among programs focused on each disease. Solucion TB aimed to increase TB-HIV/AIDS and TB-diabetes prevention and control through improved integrated care by building the capacity of local health systems and staff to carry out joint, coordinated approaches.

PCI-trained health providers connected directly with people in their own homes and communities to ensure early diagnoses of TB, to encourage those with the disease to stay committed to their treatment, and to significantly increase those who are cured. In addition, health workers provided a wide array of support and information to those affected and their families.

SOLUCION TB began a co-morbidities program in 2010 aimed at TB prevention through constant observation and control of TB, HIV/AIDS and Diabetes in Mexico. This two-year program assisted in case detection and treatment success of tuberculosis in Mexico through a collaborative model where the person affected with HIV/AIDS, TB or Diabetes is at the center of care. Once diagnosed, the individual was educated on the other diseases and those at risk were tested for the appropriate disease. If diagnosed, they were enrolled into treatment by the appropriate program.

The results from this program, which concluded in 2012, were significant: over 1,785 health care professionals were trained, 14,000+ individuals were screened for TB, and over 1,400 co-infection cases were reported in 2011, compared to less than 700 in years prior.

What’s next for TB Prevention
Over the last few years, Mexico has truly become a pioneer in advocacy, communication and social mobilization for TB in Latin America. More people with TB were diagnosed and enrolled in treatment, and improved coordination between TB, Diabetes and HIV/AIDS programs has led to better integrated services. Many jurisdictions increased diagnosis of TB cases by improving the quality of care and introducing advocacy, communication, and social mobilization tools.

PCI has built a reputation for its unique approach to TB, which involves strengthening the overall system for TB prevention and control at local, state, and national levels, and promoting a person-centered model.

Adapted from the MEASURE Evaluation Brief released by USAID in August 2012, “Two Nations Tackle Tuberculosis: USAID Legacy in Mexico.”